Interesting article (copy/paste)
DefectiveByDesign.org has declared Tuesday October 3rd a "Day Against DRM".
With more than 10,000 technologists having joined the campaign, and pledged to take direct action to stop DRM, and with more than 200 "actions" planned across the globe on October 3rd, we aim to raise the level of awareness to the threats posed by DRM technology.
DRM technology is a growing problem for all computer users, by extension all of society. DRM is typically used to restrict individuals' use of their own copies of published works. To enforce these restrictions, DRM software, and now hardware, must monitor and control a computer users' behavior. Frequently it reports on what it sees.
You might be aware that iPod users are restricted from transferring their music to other non-Apple devices because the music downloaded from iTunes is encrypted - locked with DRM. It allows you to write an audio CD, but if you ever want to take your music to a new portable device in a compressed format, you will end up with very lousy sound quality. These drawbacks are of course there for a reason: customer lock-in. Apple inconveniences its customers into binding themselves to Apple products.
This type of nuisance is but the foreshadow of greater ones to come. Standing behind the technology companies, the film and music industry (Big Media) loom large. To increase their control, they demand technology companies impose DRM. The technology companies no longer resist. Of course many of the technology companies now see themselves as part of Big Media. Sony is a film and music company, Microsoft is an owner of MSNBC, and Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, sits on the board of Disney. These technology companies cannot be expected to serve the interests of the technology consumer.
Big Media hope that DRM will deliver to them what their political lobbying to change copyright law never has: they aim to turn our every interaction with a published work into a transaction, abolishing fair use and the commons, and making copyright effectively last forever. They will say that you accepted DRM and willingly surrendered your rights. That you did so under duress, they will call irrelevant.
Amazon's new movie download service is called Unbox and it outlines what DRM implies. The user agreement requires that you allow Unbox DRM software to monitor your hard drive and to report activity to Amazon. These reports would thus include a list of: all the software installed; all the music and video you have; all your computer's interaction with other devices. You will surrender your freedom to such an extent that you will only be able to regain control by removing the software. But if you do remove the software you will also remove all your movies along with it. You are restricted even geographically, and you lose your movies if you ever move out of the USA. You of course have to agree that they can change these terms at any time.
Microsoft's newly upgraded Windows Media Player 11 (WMP11) user agreement has a similar set of terms.
Each time Big Media force you to upgrade your software, they downgrade your rights. Every new DRM system will enforce a harsher control regime. Apple's added more restrictions to their music service, and their new video service is yet more restrictive. And so it goes. But this is not just happening with music and video, DRM is being applied to knowledge and information. Libraries, schools, universities are adding DRM, sometimes under duress, often without understanding the consequences.
What does this mean for the future? No fair use. No purchase and resell. No private copies. No sharing. No backup. No swapping. No mix tapes. No privacy. No commons. No control over our computers. No control over our electronic devices. The conversion of our homes into apparatus to monitor our interaction with published works and web sites.
If this type of invasion of privacy were coming from any other source, it would not be tolerated. That it is the media and technology companies leading the way, does not make it benign.
Users of free software are not immune to DRM either. They can be locked out, and their computers won't play the movies or music under lock. Products can "tivoize" their code (remove their freedom through DRM), delivering it back with malicious features and blocking removal. The RIAA and the MPAA are actively lobbying Congress to pass new laws to mandate DRM and outlaw products and computers that don't enforce DRM. DRM has become a major threat to the freedom of computer users.
When we allow others to control our computers and monitor our actions we invite deeper surveillance. With our personal viewing, listening, reading, browsing records on file, are we not to be alarmed?
In September 2005 a Disney executive named Peter Lee told The Economist, "If consumers even know there's a DRM, what it is, and how it works, we've already failed,". A year later, we hope to make that prediction come true. With your help, on October 3rd, we can.
You are encouraged to Join the campaign at DefectiveByDesign.org
Talk about don Quichote.